Colorado State Parks board OKs changes to OHV grant program
It’s now officially permissible to use state grants from user-funded off-highway vehicle programs for law enforcement and landscape restoration, following recent action by the Colorado State Parks Board.
While such grants in the past have been used for law enforcement, particularly by federal land-management agencies using state grants, the move by the parks board clarifies that use as part of the grant process.
The board also restyled the OHV Grant Review and Ranking Subcommittee by adding four new representatives of the nonmotorized recreation community.
Additionally, the parks board adopted a plan providing for periodic changes in the subcommittee membership and authorized the subcommittee to work with a Division of Wildlife biologist during the grant review process.
“The changes to the (subcommittee) represent the first changes to the OHV grant subcommittee review process in the last 10 years,” said Tom Morrissey, manager of the Colorado State Parks Trails Program. “When considered in its entirety, the changes to the OHV grant program are the most far-reaching since the program’s inception.”
Colorado’s off-highway vehicle program was established in 1989 and today the number of registered OHVs in the state is more than 150,000.
Off-highway vehicles include motorcycles, dirt bikes, three-wheelers, all-terrain vehicles and dune buggies operated on public land or trails in Colorado.
The off-highway grant program is funded through a registration fee charged to all OHV owners.
In 2009-2010, more than 133,000 OHV owners in Colorado paid $25.25 each and more than over 20,000 out-of-state OHV enthusiasts purchased permits for $25.25, according to Colorado State Parks.
The fees fund trail maintenance, construction, trail heads, parking areas, trail signs, maps, and land acquisition.
The annual grant awards from this program will exceed $4 million in 2011.
“Colorado’s OHV program is recognized as one of the best in the nation and we feel these steps will improve the program’s ability to enhance and protect off-road recreational opportunities by virtue of improved communication and greater opportunity for collaboration,” said Bill Kane, president of the parks board.
The board began reviewing the OHV grant program in 2009 after hearing criticism from a coalition of groups pushing for the quiet use of public lands.
“The increase in back country motorized sports has generated much interest in this sport both in terms of motorized sports enthusiasts and quiet use proponents,” said Morrissey. “The changes adopted by the state parks division and the state parks board are intended to reduce user conflicts and are designed to protect Colorado’s public lands.”